Caramelized Tofu

Caramelized Tofu Recipe

Ten years ago, after coming home from a weekend trip to Big Sur, I ended up throwing together one of my favorite tofu recipes ever - caramelized strips of tofu served over sautéed shredded brussels sprouts. Toasted pecans go into the pan as well and get oh-so lightly candied as they cook alongside the tofu and sprouts. I thought I'd post a slightly updated version today. Enjoy!
Favorite Caramelized Tofu

Here's how it came together: a quick survey of my kitchen revealed tofu and a cluster of brussels sprouts. There was also a vibrant bouquet of cilantro tucked into the refrigerator door begging to be used. I scanned the cupboards and pulled down a small bag of (already toasted!) pecans and the remnants of a once full bag of my favorite sugar. Garlic? Check. If you don't love cilantro, swap in a big fistful of pea shoots.

Just a few minutes of knife work and a some fast work with a hot pan separated me from my dinner. I cooked the tofu first, then finished with the brussels sprouts. It worked out nicely that only one pan was dirtied in the process.
Favorite Caramelized Tofu

Variations

Some variations come to mind - throw in some nutty, chewy brown rice. You'll have a nicely balanced plate - vegetables, protein, and some complex carbohydrates from the rice. For those of you I failed to convert to fans with this brussels sprout recipe, spinach would be a nice alternative. With the pecans and the crusted sweetness, a few pinches of curry powder (or five-spice powder) would be delicious. There are now lots of great ideas in the comments (down below) as well.

Caramelized Tofu Recipe

4.35 from 32 votes

Any extra-firm tofu will work here, but try to buy organic, non-GMO tofu. Also, if you don't love cilantro, feel free to swap in pea shoots, or even thinly sliced kale.

Ingredients
  • 7 - 8 ounces extra-firm tofu cut into thin 1-inch segments (see photo)
  • a couple pinches of fine-grain sea salt
  • a couple splashes of olive oil
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fine-grain natural cane sugar or brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 lb. brussels sprouts, washed and cut into 1/8-inch wide ribbons
Instructions
  1. Cook the tofu strips in large hot skillet (or pot) with a bit of salt and a splash of oil. Saute until slightly golden, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and pecans, and cook for another minute. Stir in sugar. Cook for another couple of minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Scrape the tofu out onto a plate and set aside while you cook the brussels sprouts.
  2. In the same pan (no need to wash), add a touch more oil, another pinch of salt, and dial the heat up to medium-high. When the pan is nice and hot stir in the shredded brussels sprouts. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes, stirring a couple times (but not too often) until you get some golden bits, and the rest of the sprouts are bright and delicious.
Serves
4
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
 
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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Comments

  • I love tofu and have even converted my husband into a soy-lover. However, we have a terrible time getting out tofu nice and crispy and we are desperately searching for a Thai Basil Tofu recipe, the one with the peppers and brown sauce. Any suggestions?

    nita
  • This looks really tasty! We've been using sliced sprouts a lot in stir fry dishes of late. But before I could do this I had to convert my husband into sprout eating with your method of cooking them Heidi (turns there's nothing like a smattering of cheese to make something more appealing).

    Sophie
  • That looks like a really good way to sneak brussel sprouts into my husbands diet. I also like your pan-fried brussel sprouts.

    Annabelle
  • I think I make this every night for myself. Brussel sprouts and tofu are a great combination, and I even throw in some bok choy too. Quick, simple and very tasty!

    amanda
  • easy, simple, healthy = a winner trio, and you made me add brussels sprouts on my shopping list )I haven't had those since terrible experience at high school cafeteria) .. we'll see what happen ...

    Babeth
  • I have never been a big fan of tofu, but this makes me want to give it another chance. The caramelized tofu looks delicious!

    Katia
  • delicious! had it for dinner tonight, barely any leftovers for lunch tomorrow !

    jared
  • wow. great tofu recipe. i like how you threw your ingredients together, which is usually how i feed myself -- scrounging around for what i can find around the kitchen. plus it uses one of my favorite food groups -- sugar. =D seriously though, i've recently started a journey to eating a more balanced diet. i think i'll try this out, but may replace the brussel sprouts with spinach...

    veronica
  • I made this tonight it was wonderful!!! Thank you!

    Gayla
  • i just made this and used the coconut & turmeric palm sugar from big tree farms and it turned out beautifully! thanks heidi. another winner.

    kari
  • This sounds amazing! I love cilantro and brussel sprouts. What do you think is the best sugar to use?

    Shaunna
  • MHSuzy, I looked at this recipe and though, aha, I know what to do with my pork loin...so there you go. Sorry, veggies! I even have brussel sprouts I intended to make tonight. Perfect. :)

    Maureen
  • This recipe looks great! I will have to get the sprouts from the garden under the snow here in New York. If you want to check out my garden, visit: imageevent/marvbjurlin

    Marv
  • This looks absolutely delicious! I hadn't thought to combine tofu and brussels sprouts before, though I love both. Also, THANK YOU for introducing me to the best way to cook tofu ever (in your cookbook) -- slice and heat in a dry non-stick pan until the tofu has a nice light-golden crust. It's so simple, and the tofu turns out beautifully every time

    Jen
  • This sounds so delicious, I can't wait to make it! I was wondering what else you could use besides brussels sprouts to throw in some variety?

    kygrl
  • Maybe instead of tofu, use a root, like potatoes, just do it a lot smaller! or use ones that were roasted previously. love the combo, i'll try it soon! DH isn't a sprouts fan, but he loved your earler sprouts recipie that i did for thanksgiving. yummy! maybe with it being shreaded, he'll not guess what it is... if sprouts aren't available, would very fine cabbage work with this?

    Anonymous
  • Not a tofu fan, makes me curious to try. In the meantime, what could be used as the tofu substitue?

    hmsuzy
  • wow, delicious! maybe this will bring my husband around on tofu after all. He just learned to like brussels sprouts, so there's hope. Heidi, this is a really interesting combination -- can't wait to try.

    blake
  • help...love the brussel sprout recipe sounds awesome, but my husband really dislikes cilantro. any other thoughts?

    Anonymous
  • I LOVE you "everyday" recipes. Keep 'em coming! Got your e-mail exactly 25 minutes ago, and I'm eating it for lunch right now. Worked great without the cilantro, and I didn't have any sugar in the house (diabetic), so I tried a couple teaspoons of agave nectar in the pan -- delicious!

    Lori
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